Monday, January 12, 2009

Lagos State, Nigeria Marches Forward

We do not need official statistics to recognize the strides that Lagos state is taking to change the face of Greater Lagos Area. Other states could be doing greater things but Lagos remains the cynosure of our eyes, perhaps being the commercial hub of Nigeria or because of its enormous population that has bestowed on it a mega city status.

Being a mega city in itself is troubling as it suggests that infrastructure has to be enough for the teeming population that call Lagos their home. Further, it has to be attractive enough to retain its commercial hub status and to attract new ones. It is therefore newsworthy to read of several projects embarked upon by the state government to meet with the infrastructure needs of the people in the 21st century.

Realizing the weight of the tasks ahead, the state has equally called on the private sector and foreign investors to consider Lagos state for their business, providing opportunities for franchising, concessions and adoption of projects such as roads etc.

In other to make the state investment friendly while ensuring that its residents were not frustrated, the state government has accelerated its transportation project which this year, 2009 would include the railways to buoy the bus rapid transit and jetties. The state has construed an energy village, use of wind as an alternative energy and floated a 50 billion Naira infrastructure development bond to boost investment in the state, the governor Babatunde Fashola calls the 'investment haven of the whole world'.

Landscaping and planting of trees is taking place in all parts of the state to improve the aesthetics of the city while serving as absorbents for the high level of carbon emissions from the numerous vehicles that ply its roads and highways, exacerbated by bad roads, snarling traffic and the introduction of motorbikes.

Activities of the Lagos state government leave no one in doubt of their desire to reach their set goals in the realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals through its SEEDS programs and the 20-2020 initiative of the Federal Government, hence the call for state residents and corporate bodies to meet up with their tax obligations to the state.

Lagos state has not hidden its urgent desire to transform the state to a highly industrialized state with the various economic summits held, the opening of the Lekki Free Zone and plans to open up more business zones away from Lagos Island.

This state is not interested in aids but partnership; the governor reminded the visiting German President, Horst Koehler. However, the type of business development expected has to be different from the conventional pathways adopted by Germany and other countries during the ‘smokestack’ industrial revolution. This makes Mr. Koehler’s visit particularly significant as Nigeria and Germany signed an energy partnership. Lagos state and in fact the entire country should not be considered a dumping ground for overused machinery and spent technology from the West as presently witnessed in the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) sector.

Lagos state government should continue in its efforts at providing new or improved programs to better capture the enormous potential for energy savings in existing industries and proposed facilities due to their impact on the environment and economic development.

In other words, efficiency improvements to generate more economic output with less energy input, for instance, in production processes and urban transportation systems is essential for reasons of energy supply security, economic competitiveness, improvement in livelihoods, and environmental sustainability.

Lagos state should learn from the mistakes of rapidly developing countries including Brazil, Russia, India and China by deploying technologies that are sustainable, energy efficient and would improve the quality of life of its 14million people. As a microcosm of the entire country, other states would emulate its pathway to economic development if properly implemented. The Federal Government should on its part grant Lagos a special status to enable it continue to function as the state for all Nigerians and visitors to Nigeria.

Ndudi Osakwe
IBG Nigeria

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